You’ve been thinking about it for months, promising yourself that when it arrives you are finally going to knuckle down and get it done. You’ve been telling yourself all you need is the extra push; you just need a deadline because you work best under pressure. You need a race, something that will help you compete against yourself. You’ve decided to finally write your book. But you’re not sure how to prepare for writing a book.

How to Prepare for Writing a Book: 4 Steps

The starting line is almost here. This month, over a hundred writers will start writing their books. They’ve committed to 100 days of writing, and on January 29, they’ll hold their finished books in their hands.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to just jump into it feet first. There are things you can start doing right now to set yourself up for success.

How to Prepare for Writing a Book: 4 Steps

It’s near impossible to walk up to the start line of a marathon and run the race successfully. Doing something that difficult takes preparation.

Writing a novel in a hundred days is like running a marathon. If you want to do it successfully and not completely destroy yourself, you need to prepare for it. Wondering how to prepare for writing a book? Here are four things you can do to get yourself ready for writing your novel:

1. Think Through Your Beginning, Middle, and End

I know many of us hate the idea of plotting out our books before we start writing. We like being free to go wherever the Muse takes us.

At the same time, if we are giving ourselves a hard deadline, we need to know how much distance we have to cover by that date. Understanding the direction and basic plot of our novel is a must before we start trying to write it in a month.

Take some time think through your book. You don’t need to outline it in detail or use a special formula. You just need to get the basic ideas down.

How does your book start? What is the problem the characters have to solve? What happens next? How will things escalate? How will they end?

Having a basic outline in your head will help give some direction to your writing so you can hit your deadline.

2. Starting Writing a Little Now

Writing is like working out. The more we do it, the easier it is. And, just like working out, if we haven’t done it for a while and then jump right back into it, we are going to be sore and we might even hurt ourselves.

You don’t need to start writing at your 100 Day Book pace, but it wouldn’t hurt to get your writing muscles warmed up a little. Try writing for a few hours two or three nights a week. That way when you sit down on October 22 to start your marathon, it isn’t the first time you’ve tried to run in months.

3. Write a Few Short Stories With the Main Characters

The hardest thing for me to get right in a novel is each character’s voice. When I’m comfortable with a character’s voice, writing the character is like putting on an old sweatshirt. The character fits comfortably.

If I don’t spend time getting to know my characters, they all come out sounding the same.

One way to get comfortable with your characters is to write a few short stories with them as the protagonists. The stories don’t have to have anything to do with your novel.

Put your character in a coffee house and force him or her to deal with an angry barista. Have a cop give your character a parking ticket. Take your character on a terrible date.

Putting your character in a difficult situation will help you get to know your character’s voice so when it is time to start the book in November, you don’t need to spend time writing characters you are uncomfortable with.

4. Dream About Some Scenes

Before a novel really starts to flow, I need to get a few critical scenes in my head. As I’m preparing to work on a book, for several weeks right before I fall asleep at night, I’ll intentionally try to imagine a scene from the book. Ideally, I’ll spend the night dreaming about the scene and then wake up in the morning I’m ready to write it. It doesn’t always work that way, but more often than not imaging scenes in this way makes them easier to write.

Before you jump into writing your novel, try journalling out some of the scenes you think you might want to include. Focus on the emotional flow of the scenes and character reactions.

You don’t need to write the scenes in full. Just let them start to play in your mind. Try watching the scenes like you are watching a movie. Then play the scenes out through different characters’ eyes.

If you have a few good scenes in your head, your writing will go faster.

Prepare to Write

Yes, you might not start writing your book until the 100 days begin on October 22. But you don’t have to show up to the 100 Day Book program unprepared. Set yourself up for success by getting ready for the difficult task of writing a novel.

Do you have tricks for how to prepare for writing a book? Share them in the comments below.


Take fifteen minutes and write a short story with a character you are thinking about using somewhere else. Use today’s writing time to get used to their voice. After you’ve written the scene, post it in the comments below.

Jeff Elkins is a writer who lives Baltimore with his wife and five kids. If you enjoy his writing, he'd be honored if you would subscribe to his free monthly newsletter. All subscribers receive a free copy of Jeff's urban fantasy novella "The Window Washing Boy."